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Mineral Resources of New Mexico

In shaping the course of civilization, mining plays a unique, important role in the world economy and the future of society by filling the persistent demands for raw earthen materials and native metals. Mineral needs are present in all societies and mining contributes essential products for their sustained economic future. Metals and industrial minerals are used in every sector of construction and manufacturing.  Energy minerals provide electricity and fuels for all aspects of industry and society. Agriculture depends on minerals for fertilizers and pesticides. Indeed, mining is at the foundation of civilization, no matter how primitive or advanced. Every American baby will require approximately 3 million pounds of minerals in their lifetime (Fig. 1) and every year more than 38,000 pounds of minerals must be mined to meet the needs of each American (Fig. 2).

FIGURE 1. Every American baby will require approximately 3 million pounds of minerals in their lifetime (from Mineral Information Institute,, accessed 12/5/13).
FIGURE 2. Every year more than 38,000 pounds of minerals must be mined to meet the needs of each American (, accessed 12/5/13).

The production and flow of minerals in the United States and the world has increased dramatically in the last century in order to meet the demands of our technological lifestyle (Fig. 3, Wagner, 2002). The U.S. is a major producer of aggregate, iron, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, molybdenum and industrial minerals and it also imports these and other commodities (Wagner, 2002). Production and consumption of minerals will increase in the future as population increases worldwide and as people demand an increasingly better quality of life.

U.S. raw materials 1990-2000
FIGURE 2 (click image for PDF version). U. S. flow of raw materials by weight 1900-2000. The use of raw materials in the U. S. increased dramatically during the last 100 years (from Wagner, 2002).

The value of mining multiplies in the economy in a number of ways. Mining provides benefits to the communities where they are located by contributing wages, economic activity due to purchases of goods and services, taxes, royalties and fees to local, state and national governments (, accessed 12/5/13).

Mine staffs are highly trained and educated, and their wages average higher than other industrial and social sectors. Mining operations bring training and experience to communities that reach beyond mining. For instance, many of the first responders and emergency medical technicians in rural areas are trained and employed by the mining industry.

Environmentally responsible mining and mineral processing is important to national economies and to quality of life as indicated by the following quote from the International Institute for Environment and Development: “One of the greatest challenges facing the world today is integrating economic activity with environmental integrity and social concern.  The fulfillment of ‘needs’ is central to the definition of sustainable development” (IIED, 2002). A large part of the contribution of mining to sustainable development is the continuing flow of minerals by mining while protecting the well being of the physical and social environment as possible (McLemore and Turner, 2004).

New Mexico's mineral wealth is one of the richest endowments of any state in the U.S. (McLemore et al., 2002; U.S. Geological Survey, 2013; Krisanda, 2013). In 2011, New Mexico ranked 18th in the U.S. in nonfuel minerals production (Table 1). New Mexico also ranked 13th in coal production in the U.S. in 2010. In addition, significant reserves of coal, copper, potash, and molybdenum are identified in the state. Most of New Mexico’s mineral production comes from coal, copper, and potash. Other commodities produced in the state include a variety of industrial minerals (including stone and aggregate), sulfuric acid, molybdenum, gold, uranium, and silver.

TABLE 1. Total minerals production value in New Mexico from 1989 to 2011. 1Data from Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department (1997-2011). 2Data from U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral Yearbooks (1989-2011). Na—not available
Year Minerals Production value1 (including coal production) (dollars) Payroll1 (including coal production) (dollars) Minerals production value2 (excluding coal production) (dollars) Rank in United States2 (excluding coal production) Percentage of U. S. total2 (excluding coal production)
1989     1,124,592,000 10 3.48
1990     1,097,550,000 10 3.29
1991     985,563,000 10 3.23
1992     871,279,000 13 2.72
1993     804,049,000 12 ?
1994     929,000,000 12 2.64
1995     1,130,000,000 11 2.94
1996     992,000,000 13 2.56
1997  1,621,513,947  300,851,045 1,040,000,000 14 2.56
1998  1,504,795,624  310,550,710 888,000,000 17 2.25
1999  1,453,066,873  277,708,501 715,000,000 21 1.83
2000  1,377,411,947  260,609,375 786,000,000 18 2
2001  1,236,641,553  282,283,691 597,000,000 23 1.56
2002 125,511,627 248,644,629 561,000,000 24 1.48
2003 1,235,443,804 228,943,406 569,000,000 25 1.44
2004 1,556,919,881 249,677,524 866,000,000 20 1.9
2005 1,859,392,448 270,787,638 1,150,000,000 19 2.08
2006 2,169,713,560 286,063,879 1,470,000,000 15 2.22
2007 2,200,256,141 316,383,296 1,560,000,000 15 2.24
2008 2,359,634,440 337,894,735 1,620,000,000 15 2.28
2009 1,756,799,711 287,297,061 886,000,000 23 1.5
2010 1,780,236,662 271,364,754 1,020,000,000 21 1.54
2011 2,214,706,950 313,768,890 1,250,000,000 18 1.67
Total 17,258,615,224 2,810,825,812 22,912,033,000    



  1. IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development), 2002, Mining Minerals Sustainable Development Breaking new ground: International Institute for Environment and Development,, accessed 12/5/13.
  2. Krisanda, J.M., 2013, Statistical summary: U.S. Geological Survey, 2011 Minerals Yearbook, 35 p.,, accessed 12/5/13
  3. McLemore, V.T., Hoffman, G.K., and Pfeil, J., 2002, Minerals industry in New Mexico in 1998-2000: New Mexico Geology, v. 24, p. 19-28, , accessed 12/5/13
  4. McLemore, V.T., and Dennis Turner, D., 2004, Sustainable development and exploration: Society of Mining, Exploration, and Metallurgy, SME Preprint No. 04-170, CD-ROM, 10 p.,
  5. Wagner, L.A., 2002, Materials in the Economy— Material Flows, Scarcity, and the Environment: U. S. Geological Survey, Circular1221, 34 p.
  6. U.S. Geological Survey, 1989-2011, Mineral Commodity Summaries: various paginated,, accessed 12/5/13
  7. U.S. Geological Survey, 2013, The mineral industry of New Mexico: U.S. Geological Survey, 2009 Minerals Yearbook, 13 p.,, accessed 12/5/13

Virginia T. McLemore